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Diabetes Update: New GI and GL Table

Number 41; July 15, 2002

By David Mendosa

This newsletter keeps you up-to-date with new articles, columns, and Web pages that I have written. I list and link most of these on my Diabetes Directory at

From time to time Diabetes Update may also include links to other Web pages of special interest.

My most recent contributions are:

    on July 12, 2002
  • New Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Table
    I just uploaded the definitive new table of glycemic index and glycemic load to my Web site. These tables, which include 750 foods, are reproduced by permission of Professor Jennie Brand-Miller of the University of Sydney from her tables in the July issue of the American Journal of the Clinical Nutrition. The long article by Kaye Foster-Powell, Susanna HA Holt, and Janette C Brand-Miller, "International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002" is on pages 5-56. The URL is .

    This table replaces a summary of about 300 foods. That table included only their glycemic indexes, while this one has the first extensive list of glycemic loads.

    on July 15, 2002

  • Books on Diabetes
    You may come close, but you won't find everything you need to know about diabetes on the Internet. Gutenberg was right—print still has its place. And that place for us are some fine books and magazines about diabetes.

    Even though books and magazines are in a different medium than the Internet, the Web has a lot to offer like reviews and how to find them. In this article I list what I think are the 12 best books about diabetes with links to the 11 that I have reviewed. The URL is


    on July 7, 2002
  • More Lies
    The response to my special message sending the article by Gary Taubes, "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" was so dramatic that it is clear that he hit a nerve. Mostly pro, occasionally con, the commentary on the diabetes mailing lists and newsgroups and to me personally, suggests that you might want to read more. This time, however, rather than sending you such long messages, I will restrain myself and simply send the URLs for two articles.

    The first is an article that made a big impact on me when it appeared in the March 2001 issue of Science magazine. Gary Taubes wrote "The Soft Science of Dietary Fat," which amplifies what The New York Times Magazine published last week. You can't download the Science article without a subscription, but Dr. Richard K. Bernstein has done us all a favor by posting this article (and well as Gary's more recent one) on his Web site. The URL is

    The second article was mentioned on the table of contents page for the issue of The New York Times Magazine that published Gary's article. It noted that "we dive back into the debate over food, fat and the health benefits of a big thick steak. Back in March, Michael Pollan profiled No. 534, a black steer that he bought and then followed from ranch to feedlot. Though Pollan was put off by the antibiotics, estrogen and bushels of corn that No. 534 consumed, he wrote that eating a grass-fed steak 'is something I'm happy to do and defend.' Gary Taubes takes the beef defense a step further..."

    It happens that Michael Pollan's article has already had a major effect on my life. I just bought and froze 85 pounds of 100 percent grassfed beef from the nearby T.O. Cattle Company, one of the grassfed suppliers listed on Eat Wild, the site linked in Pollan's article. This beef is not only healthier, it also has much more flavor. Beyond beef, we are just now ordering grass-fed lamb from another supplier, one that we just discovered. Rather than email Pollan's article to you, I encourage you to read it on the Web. It's reproduced on several sites, including

    on July 14, 2002

  • Trans Fatty Acids
    A year ago I wrote about proposed FDA rulemaking that would require food products to show the amount of trans fatty acids, like they now show saturated and total fat. The article was the July 2001 issue of the "e-Charged Newsletter" that I wrote for LXN Corporation before the company was sold to Johnson & Johnson (think LifeScan).

    It's taken the FDA longer than the government usually takes. The FDA had initially planned to publish a final rule by the end of last year. One of the things that held up the agency's action, according to a letter three months ago from Susan Thompson of the FDA's Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements was "the lack of a daily allowance and upper limit for trans fat." She also said that the agency was waiting for a report from the Institute of Medicine.

    The institute has just issued its report, Letter Report on Dietary Reference Intakes for Trans Fatty Acids. While the institute's conclusions are significant for all of us, they received little publicity in the press. Therefore, I'm quoting the summary in full:

    There is a positive linear trend between trans fatty acid intake and total and LDL cholesterol concentration, and therefore increased risk of CHD, thus suggesting a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of zero. Because trans fatty acids are unavoidable in ordinary diets, achieving such a UL would require extraordinary changes in patterns of dietary intake. Such extraordinary adjustments may introduce other undesirable effects (e.g., elimination of foods, such as dairy products and meats, that contain trans fatty acids may result in inadequate intakes of protein and certain micronutrients) and unknown and unquantifiable health risks may be introduced by any extreme adjustments in dietary pattern. For these reasons, no UL is proposed. Nevertheless, it is recommended that trans fatty acid consumption be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.

    Does the inability of the institute to set an upper limit, which the FDA was waiting for, mean further delays in implementing the trans fat labeling rule? I don't know, but an AP story quotes Christine Lewis Taylor, the FDA's labeling chief, saying after the institute's report came out that a final rule requiring that the amount of trans fat be listed could be completed by this fall or early next spring. That report "really underscores the relationship between intake of trans fat and increased risk of heart disease,'' she said. "Therefore, providing some kind of information on the label is important for consumers."

    Meanwhile, what can you do to avoid foods high in trans fat? I still think the best list is the one in my e-Charged newsletter article. The USDA has analytical data on the trans fatty acid content of 214 foods on-line Fat and Fatty Acid Content of Selected Foods Containing Trans-Fatty Acids, but the table is hard to use.


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